Maybe it was a fait accompli that after Right to Repair legislation passed in Massachusetts in 2012 an agreement between the auto industry and the independent automotive service repair industry might soon follow.
After all, if the auto companies have to make vehicle repair diagnostic data available to independent shops in Massachusettsor face stiff penaltiesthey might as well make it available to outlets in all the other states.
But that takes nothing away from the excitement and sense of accomplishment proponents of R2R should feel about what looks like the end to the long-time dispute between auto makers and indep-endent auto repair shops.
The reason for optimism? Independents and motorists may finally get the same access to purcase diagnostic repair information and equipment including technical updates that the auto makers offer their franchised dealers covering all model years from 2002 on.
It's not a done deal yet, but the news that four major industry trade associationsthe Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers, Association of Global Automakers and Automotive Aftermarket Industry Associationhave signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) extending the essential provisions of the Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act enacted in Massachusetts to all 50 states and the District of Columbia pretty much seals the deal.
With these respected associations now in congruity, it is expected the auto makers will soon sign on to the deal, and the issue of open access to diagnostic repair information will finally be put to rest.
Also going away will be the agreement that the Automotive Service Association forged on its own several years ago with the auto makers to voluntarily provide repair and diagnostic information. That accord included the establishment of a watchdog group and clearing house to address complaints by independent repairers.
What can independent repair shops expect from this MOU?
If the outcome is anything like what's happening in Massachusetts, they will see guaranteed, easier and affordable access to the information necessary to repair vehicles that roll into their shops.
According to Dick Cole, executive director of the New England Tire & Service Associationand a key player in the Massachusetts R2R fightthings already are better for independents now than they were a year ago because of the law's passage in that state.
This looks to be a great victory for independent repairers, while giving consumers a broader choice of outlets capable of servicing their vehicles.